Wednesday 30 August 2017

Keep Fit Chicken

Remember me .... I now come in on a regular basis.

I've discovered my people have exercise equipment ...

... I'm really getting the hang of it  :-)

But I've suddenly realised that if I build up my leg muscles too much, the man of the house might start seeing me in a whole new light !!

I'm off.

Mabel xx

Monday 28 August 2017

Seeds, Seeds and Then Some More Seeds

The ladies who lunch at Wyevale struck gold again last week, well this year I think I would call it bronze!  The sale is nowhere near as good this year as it was last, remember the 30p fireguards I managed to get, the net wigwams for my cabbages at 70% off their true cost ... well there's none of that this year, and the crafty folk there have even packed away most of the seeds instead of just putting them all in the '50p a pack' sale as they used to do.

Now the ex-retail manager in me says at last they are learning stock management and buying only what sells at full price instead of stuff they have to give away.  But the bargain hunter in me says boohoo and stamps her feet and slams out in a huff.

I did have a good look through the seeds that were there though and managed to spend £7 on seeds that I needed, Little Gem lettuce, Dwarf Beans, Cauliflower, Carrots and Spring Onions .... I can never have enough Spring Onions :-)

The other things were Rosemary, I have never grown it from seed before and was interested to try ... and well for 50p it's worth a go isn't it.

The Chives and Basil caught my eye because the seeds are impregnated onto little mats and you just pop them onto the top of a plant pot full of compost, water it well and you should have a well filled pot of Chives.  I was intrigued by this so I got a pack of Basil too.  There are five mats in each pack and they normally retail at £2.99 which I wouldn't pay, but for 50p I thought it would be a simple and quick way of growing pots of herbs to sell on at the farm gate and at next years car boot sales.  So five packs with five mats in each should give me 25 pots of herbs, that I will probably sell at £1 each.  Not a bad return £25 for an outlay of just £2.50.

I don't normally buy 'seed tapes' either as they are an expensive way to purchase seeds, but I thought the carrot tapes at just 50p would be good. My downfall with carrots is always planting them far too close together and then forgetting to thin them.

So at 50p a packet my 14 packs came to just £7, when I got home I couldn't resist adding up the full retail value of my little haul and I was pleasantly surprised to find it came to £36.27.  So only a small sale splurge this year but I think a worthwhile one.  Maybe I'll upgrade my medal from bronze to silver.

And talking of seeds .....

... do you remember THIS post?

I bought this magazine from Tesco ....

... it came with £24 worth of free seeds and a Dvd.

And the chance to buy three more issues of the magazine for £5 with even more free seeds.

Did you think I could resist this?

Nope .... you know me so well   :-)

The seeds arrived on Saturday along with the details of my 'new' subscription. now I just have to remember to cancel the subscription before they take out the £20 for the next six months in three months time.  These seeds had a total retail value of £39.94 ... of course I just had to add it up to see!!

Now you understand the title of this post  :-)

Sue xx

Sunday 27 August 2017

A Very Dry Bank Holiday, with No Thanks to the NFU

We woke up on Friday morning to a steady current of water flowing from underneath the house.

It had obviously been flowing for sometime as outside it was draining away in all directions.

Luckily the heaviest flow was making for the drains we had installed and the soakaway system we have under the driveway.

This picture just does not show the force at which it was bubbling away from under the house.

Luckily the only damage inside the house was the flooded under stairs cupboard where the stop-cock is and the water inlet to the house.  The cupboard was quickly emptied and the sodden, dripping carpet slung over the washing line to drip the day away.

We called Welsh Water who had a couple of guys with us within the hour, all they could do was to give us the number of a local contact and turn our water off at the mains.  They left us with four bottles of drinking water and drove off.  We tried ringing the contact but all we got was an answerphone over and over ... obviously with it being the Bank Holiday weekend he just didn't want any more work to do.  So we called our insurance company for advice. 

Now we've been with the NFU for the last eight years, we insure our house with them, it's contents, the cars with them, the trailers and the tractor and we have never had to call them for help before.  Thinking of the adverts on a television when a nice chap comes rushing to your assistance we naively thought they would have the answers to our predicament.  Now although the folk on the other end of the line were very polite the only thing they could arrange was a plumber/water specialist to come out on Wednesday of next week.  WHAT!!  They expect us to last SIX days without a water supply or toilet facilities.  After discussing things between ourselves and trying the water boards contact number again, with no success, we rang them back and said this just wasn't good enough. So they kindly decided this wasn't a routine call out but an emergency one and upgraded the repair date to TUESDAY!!

So two people, two dogs, one cat, twenty chickens and four sheep ..... and no working water supply!!

So this weekend we have rigged up a system where we turn the water on at the mains, meaning a trip into the main road for both of us, with Alan getting on his hands and knees to turn the supply on and me standing behind to warn him of oncoming traffic, then we quickly do as much as we can before the water starts filling up the foundations of the house again.  Fill the trough and every available vessel in the polytunnel, fill the sheep's three buckets, fill the chicken drinkers, fill the kettle, water bottles, jugs and large pans in the kitchen, do one load of washing in the machine and run a bath.  Then we repeat our journey onto the now even busier main road and turn off the supply.  With lots of dashing around we've got this down to an exhausting 35 minute routine.

Coming in we each have a relaxing dunk in the bath and then leave the water in for toilet flushing during the course of the day.  One thing's for sure we'll not take our water supply for granted again, and I will be pushing for Alan to connect the pump to our underground tank for future outdoor watering use.  But in typical male fashion it seems shelves in the workshop are still of higher priority than me being able to water vegetables with free Welsh rainwater.

There was however, one light in this dark and waterless tunnel ... we had to empty the under stairs cupboard in a rush. I was astonished at the amount of clutter in there.  Things just get added and added to a little seen space don't they, without a realisation of how much stuff you put there.

So I decided to continue with yesterdays mini Challenge and pick out things to add to the car boot box.  We had one bag and two big boxes of Christmas decorations for a start, so I decided that one box was more enough for us and whittled away at things.  Counting them into groups of ten again as it somehow focuses the mind.

It didn't take long to rationalise things.

Thirty things gone in the blink of an eye.

Hoover attachments that I have never even used, excess wrapping paper that never will get used, a total of 37 items found in 10 minutes.

And instead of waiting to put what was left back under the stairs when everything has dried out, I put all the Christmas stuff into the lower cupboard in the living room ... because there was lots of room in there after last weeks sorting marathon.

So now there is a lot less stuff stashed behind the sofa waiting to go back into the cupboard, and it's not bugging me quite so much and at least something good came out of this watery mess.

I hope your Bank Holiday weekend is going well ..... at least the weather is dry here and we had a very successful car boot sale yesterday, coming home with no less than nine empty boxes and £108 for the car boot kitty.

There is one more car boot sale in our favourite venue this year, so I will be having one last push to fill up some of those empty boxes with things we no longer need or use, just to see what I can make our total car boot sale takings up to for this year.

Sue xx

Thursday 24 August 2017

A One Day Challenge - Updated and Complete

I'm having a 'spur of the moment' One Day Challenge  :-)

We're hoping to do a Car Boot Sale on Saturday weather permitting, so my Challenge to myself today is to declutter from the house ten items every hour on the hour until 5pm tonight. 

By the end of this mini declutter-athon there should be seventy more items to add to my car boot sale boxes, more space in the house ... and hopefully at the end of the sale on Saturday more cash in my purse.

I will take a photo of every hourly ten and try and get back on here to upload .... just to keep myself on track. 

I better go now it's almost 12 noon and time for my second ten of the day.

12 noon





Yep. I finished early ..... 5pm's little collection.

Has anybody else, when decluttering, had an overwhelming urge just to get rid of everything.  Sorting through my wardrobe I just wanted to lift the lot out and price it up .... and start from scratch with a minimal collection.

I'm fighting the urge .... I'll go and put the kettle on instead  ;-)

Sue xx

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Chicken at the Window ....

Chicken at the window  ...

... chicken at the door.

You can almost hear Mavis shouting 'hey Mum there's a chicken at the door' can't you  ;-)

Ten minutes later there was a chicken in the house ... cheeky madam!!

Going this way and that, she obviously liked the feeling of the door mat under her tootsies.

Mavis was peering outside to see if any more are on their way while Suky watched on in amusement.

Even posing for a photo ...

... before eventually going back outside.

Strolling nonchalantly passed the old Belfast sink ...

...while over in Chicken World the rest of the flock watched with interest.

"Has the chicken gone yet Mum?"

Just another day in our mad house  :-)

Sue xx

Monday 21 August 2017

The Llanrwst Show 2017

Saturday saw us up and about early, bleary eyed from a 6am alarm call, sorting out the chickens, feeding and walking the dogs ... and me frantically making a second batch of scones as my first came out like cheesy Frisbees.

Then it was a question of packing up all my carefully prepared choices from the polytunnel and veggie patch the day before and setting off for the show.  Llanrwst is only a couple of miles along the road so it didn't take us long to get there, we did drive through two rain showers on our way though so that made us a bit concerned.

Last years show was virtually a washout with horrendous heavy rain and gale force winds, we did not want an action replay of that for the organisers to cope with.  This years show just HAD to be a success to try and recoup some of the enormous expense it must cost to put on a show of this size.

My offerings were staged alongside lots of other peoples in the Horticulture and Homecraft marquee, and there was a lot of good natured banter as we all titivated our vegetables and arranged dahlias and flowers to within an inch of their lives, and then we set off for home.

Judging in the tent was from 10am until 1pm so we thought it better to be at home getting on with jobs and then come back to have a good look round the show in the afternoon.

We got back at about 2ish and made our way straight to the tent to see what the results were.  To be honest I had not expected too much this year as the quality of the exhibits we had watched being unpacked earlier had been very high.  But there in the egg class ...

... were our eggs with a Third place card.

In this class unlike John's at Trelawnyd the eggs have to be matching, and raw

The judges are looking for super freshness, ie. the two layers of white being very distinct and the yolk bright and well domed.  At Trelawnyd they have to be freshly cooked and displayed with the yolk central when the judge cuts into them.

I felt vindicated for doing a second batch of scones as the new ones got me a Second place :-)

I didn't enter a Scotch Egg ... but I thought I'd put this photo in ... just in case John comes over for a visit to this post.  It's always good to see a man drool   ;-)

Moving along the table I spied that my Blackberry Whisky had got a Second.

So in the Homecraft section I got two Seconds and a Third  :-)

At the other side of the tent were the veggie and flower classes.

I got a first for '5 Tomatoes with Calyx'

A First for my Salad basket (must contain one lettuce and 2 others).

A Second in the Open Section for '5 Tomatoes with calyx'.

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you there are only four tomatoes on the winning plate!!  Somebody pinched one of the winners tomatoes .... it wasn't me honest!!  Seemingly the Judge conferred with the organisers and was told that there were definitely five tomatoes at the start of the day!!

A Second for my Truss of Tomatoes.

I was gutted that a lovely bright red, fully ripe tomato fell off the truss as I was putting it into the bag at home, that would most likely have made it the winner.  I did debate sticking it back on with superglue .... but honesty won over  ;-)

I got a Second for my pair of marrows.

A First for my jug of 'six freshly cut herbs'.

A Second for my Courgette, in the 'Any Other Vegetable Not on the Schedule' class.

And as the only entry in the Five French Marigolds class .... I got a First here too.

I used to feel a bit funny getting a winners card if I was the only entry, but it was explained to me that even if you are the only entry, the item entered has to fulfill all competition criteria and 'be a good example of it's type'.

So a total of four Firsts and four Seconds.

And £25.50 in prize money  :-)

Before coming home we had a good look around the Show, chatted to friends and neighbours ...

... and drank cider and drooled over tractors
Well that was mostly Alan not me, although I did join in with the cider bit  ;-)

A good day was had by all despite the occasional shower of rain, and next year we will be back, with more vegetables, more alcoholic beverages and hopefully some wooden items from Alan's brand new workshop ... he has been challenged to bring home a winners card all of his own.

Sue xx